Archive for the ‘Web Services’ Category

GitHub Supercharges ‘Gists’ for Quick and Easy Code Sharing

Image: GitHub.

Social coding giant GitHub continues to crank out the hits. The company recently made it easy to create new files through its web interface and now GitHub has launched a completely rewritten version of GitHub Gist.

Gists are a way to dump and share snippets and short pieces of reusable code — too short to bother creating a full-fledged Git repository, but something you’d like to save and share nonetheless — covering roughly the same use case as something like the much older Pastebin. Or at least that used to be the case.

The new gists are considerably more powerful. The rewrite actually turns gists into full Git repositories, so they are automatically versioned, forkable and usable as Git repos, complete with diffs.

Gists are also now searchable — complete with the ability to filter searches by language — and there’s a new Discover page as well.

Like normal GitHub repos, gists now offer the Ace code editor with its syntax highlighting and automatic indenting. While the Ace editor is nice, my favorite way to create gists is through editor plugins like this one for Vim, this one for Emacs or this one for Sublime Text 2.

Flickr Revamps Site Navigation and ‘Explore’ Page

Flickr’s redesigned Explore page. Image: Flickr

Hot on the heels of its awesome new iPhone app, Flickr has rolled out some changes to its web interface, revamping the navigation bar, which Flickr says makes it easier to get around the site. Flickr has also added the popular “justified” view of photos to the Explore landing page.

The Flickr blog says the changes are rolling out to everyone over the next few days, so if you don’t see them yet just be patient.

While Flickr says the new nav bar is “designed to make browsing Flickr faster and easier,” whether or not that’s true depends a little on which features you frequently use. The new navigation definitely simplifies things, but it does so by moving more than a few menu items off to obscure places. For example, options like browsing through your tags or looking at your collections have been moved out of the “You” menu to “More.” Similarly, the link to log out or get to your new mail have been moved to a new menu hidden in your user icon.

Flickr hasn’t outright deleted most menu items; they’ve just moved them to new locations. Sometimes that’s a good thing — for example, removing the “your” from all the options under a menu already named “You” makes sense — and other times it’s annoying, for example if you frequently browse by tags.

Less confusing is the new Explore page, which adopts the “justified” view that Flickr previously introduced for its Contacts, Favorites and Group Pool pages. The new layout tiles images to fit more photos at larger sizes in a smaller space and makes, well, exploring, more interesting.

File Under: Web Services

Redesign Brings (Some) Gmail Smarts to Yahoo Mail

Yahoo Mail’s revamped web and mobile clients. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey.

Yahoo’s new CEO, Marissa Mayer, is bringing a bit of her old employer’s famous design simplicity to Yahoo’s most-used service, Yahoo Mail.

The revamped Yahoo Mail web interface bears more than a passing resemblance to Gmail and is now joined by dedicated mobile apps for iOS and Windows 8, as well as a redesigned Android app.

If you’re not seeing the new web version just yet, Mayer says the new version will be rolling out “over the next few days.” You can grab the iOS, Android and Windows 8 apps from their respective stores. (Note that the iOS app is iPhone/iPod touch only.)

The revamped Yahoo Mail is unlikely to bring home any prizes for originality, taking most of its design cues from Gmail, but it does offer a considerably cleaner interface across web and mobile apps. Mayer says the focus of the redesign was on speed and claims that “getting through your e-mails is faster than ever before.”

The changes are primarily cosmetic; the underlying functionality of Yahoo Mail remains largely the same. That said, Yahoo Mail has dispensed with some of its more annoying design decisions — for example, when you login you’ll now land in your inbox rather than being dumped on an intro page. The new look also cuts down on the overall clutter of the web-based interface and reduces the number of clicks it takes to perform common tasks.

Unfortunately the free version of Yahoo Mail still lacks several features you’ll find in competitors like Gmail or Outlook.com, most notably POP/IMAP access (for desktop mail clients) and automatic e-mail forwarding. If you need POP/IMAP access (for example, to use your mobile device’s built-in mail client) or ever want to automatically forward your mail to another account you’ll need to sign up for Yahoo Mail Plus, which runs $20 per year. (If you know what you’re doing you can use a proxy service to access Yahoo’s free version via IMAP.)

Existing Yahoo Mail users may benefit from the redesigned interface and new mobile apps, but cosmetic changes alone are unlikely to win many converts from Gmail or Outlook.com. Coming from Google, Mayer undoubtedly knows that Yahoo Mail still can’t compete with Gmail on power user features, but she concludes her post with the promise that the revamped look of Yahoo Mail is “just the beginning.”

File Under: Multimedia, Web Services

YouTube Makeover Offers Larger Videos

YouTube’s new digs. Image: Google

After months of experimenting with YouTube’s interface and serving limited trials to willing users, Google has launched a new look for the web’s biggest video-sharing site.

The new YouTube is reminiscent of Flickr’s redesign earlier this year — putting the content, in this case the videos, front and center. The new YouTube offers larger videos closer to the top of the page; the title is now below the video, just above the various sharing options.

The left of the page is home to YouTube’s new “Guide,” a list of all the YouTube channels you’re subscribed to, along with your history and video playlists. The YouTube Guide now comes with you across devices, offering up new videos and suggestions on everything from Android phones to Google TV.

The other notable change is that the page is no longer centered, it’s aligned to the left edge of the browser window. The result is a slightly less cluttered page with more emphasis on the video, though the dead space to the right looks a bit strange if you’ve got a large monitor.

File Under: Web Apps, Web Services

Gmail’s ‘Send and Archive’ Graduates From Gmail Labs

Google has graduated three popular Gmail Labs tools to proper Gmail features: reply to all, quote selected text and, the most useful of the bunch, the “Send and Archive” button.

Unlike some new features for Google Apps, these are available right now in Gmail, though all three remain off by default.

To enable the popular “Send and Archive,” which turns the Send button into a dual-function button that sends your reply and then archives the conversation, head to settings and look for the new “Show ‘Send & Archive’ button in reply” option. While you’re in Gmail’s settings you can also change the default reply mode to reply all, though frankly that seems like asking for trouble.

The quote selected text feature is not a setting, it’s just the new behavior for replying to messages. Select a block of text in an e-mail, click reply and only the selected text will be included in your reply.